Saturday, December 29, 2012

BOOKS: Flavia de Luce 3 books

A little Flavia Spree...

Three years ago, I first read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, and was thrilled with the newest mystery detective: Flavia de Luce. Flavia, an eleven year old chemistry whiz with a special interest in poison, is on the verge of growing up. She lives in Buckshaw with her widowed father, two nasty older sisters, and the requisite caring employees around the ancestral home.

I had great intentions of reading the second book, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, and I was so excited when I won a copy as part of the Early Reviewers Program at Librarything back in January 2010. Alas, the book never arrived. Stupid mail. I was mad and took it out on the book, and never did get around to reading it. When my book club picked Sweetness as our October book, I took it as a sign to finally read The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag. I had forgotten how light and enjoyable they were, and I whizzed though it. I then proceeded to read one a month until I am now all caught up.

I talked before about the reasons why eleven year old Flavia is the perfect age for being a detective: free to roam around, smart enough to think, brave enough to ask questions and butt in to places, and young enough not to know any better. Add the eccentric, privileged household with the library and widowed, distracted father and not hanging around any other children, and we've got the perfect storm to create Flavia.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley, 271 pages [Canadian Book Challenge, Christmas Spirit challenge]
I'd been spending so much time sitting halfway down the stairs that I was beginning to feel like Christopher Robinp57 (whenever I recognize a little line from something else, it always makes me wonder how many other references I am missing)

Flavia continues her odd life in 1950s England where she studies chemistry and poisons, battles with her sisters, and manages to investigate murders at an alarming rate. This one was set at Christmas time, with Buckshaw being rented out to a film company, and Flavia plotting to catch Father Christmas in the act. When the leading lady is found murdered, and the blizzard trapping everyone at Buckshaw, Flavia gets to solve her very own closed room murder.

I had concocted the gunpowder myself from niter, sulfur, charcoal, and a happy heart. p 138

I've enjoyed the books, and Flavia is a delight, but there seems to be no forward progress in discovering anything else about the family, and in particular Dogger. We are getting some clues that there is much more to Dogger the handyman. This book also seemed to hint at some war-time activity of some of the family members, and for some reason, I've always felt there was some mystery about  Flavia's mother's death. One more book is just being released, and I've seen the title listed for a sixth book, but I'm not sure if this series has a finite end point or not. I've read some reviews that the next book ends with a crazy cliff-hanger, the first for this series.